I was recently in the Thong Lor area of Sukhumvit Road and came across Boon Tong Kiat, a restaurant selling "Singapore chicken rice". Despite having visited the country several times, I only recently became aware that chicken rice is Singapore's 'national' dish and was curious to see how it differed from the Thai version. The shop was also highly recommended by a friend, so I stopped by.
From the get-go, Boon Tong Kiat's khao man kai looks quite different than the domestic version of this Chinese dish. The rice had a slightly gold hue, which according to an extremely detailed sign inside the restaurant, was due to the use of "nine different spices". In addition to this, the sign explained that the rice was also "the finest jasmine rice in the country", and was first fried in a wok over high heat before being cooked over medium heat in a gas-powered rice cooker, before finally kept warm in a "Singaporean rice cooker". There was an equal amount of information regarding the cooking of the chicken, the majority of which escapes me now.
Culinary mission statements aside, it took only a simple taste to realize that Boon Tong Kiat is doing something special here. The rice was was fragrant with the "nine spices", galangal being the only one I could identify with some confidence, and was perfectly cooked, being both tender and toothsome. The chicken was also tender but not mushy, and was juicy and flavourful. This was the first time I'd seen this simple dish done to its full potential, and I loved it.
Halfway into the dish, I noticed that the restaurant also did rojak, a sweet/sour 'salad' of Indonesian origin known at Boon Tong Kiat as som tam singapore. I loved this dish from my visits to Singapore and couldn't resist ordering:
Boon Tong Kiat's version was pretty spot on and combined par-boiled morning glory, crunchy bits of cucumber, pineapple, apple and the deep-fried Chinese dough fritters known as you tiao. This was topped with the thick, sweet/sour sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The sauce wasn't as profound or thick as that I've had in Penang, but tasted more or less as it should.
In addition to chicken rice and rojak, Boon Tong Kiat also prepares a variety of Sino/Singaporean-foods. And despite Singapore being virtually a neighbor of Thailand, this shop, as far as I know, is the only place in town where you can find such dishes. Very highly recommended.
Boon Tong Kiat Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice
440/5 and 396 Sukhumvit 55
02 390 2508